Photo courtesy of Threadbare Cider.

Threadbare Cider and the National Aviary form a new penguins team

Hockey season’s over, but there’s a new team in town that’ll make you cheer “Let’s go pens!”

Threadbare Cider and the National Aviary have joined forces to create Penguin’s Waddle Cider. The sweet beverage is made from a custom blend of local apples and a proprietary Sauvignon Blanc yeast strain that was isolated from a spontaneous fermentation at a winery in the Breedekloof region of South Africa.

It’s fitting since the Aviary’s summer season features Journey to Africa Presented by Peoples, an attraction highlighting the African continent and the nonprofit zoo’s conservation work with African penguins. On Jan. 2, the Aviary welcomed a female chick named Marge. She is the 11th African Penguin — an endangered species — born there.

“The National Aviary is excited to partner with our North Side neighbor Threadbare Cider on Penguin’s Waddle,” says Laurie Nicholl, the National Aviary’s director of philanthropy. “This effort not only supports a great local business, but also raises funds critical to the National Aviary’s work of saving birds and protecting their habitats.”

A portion of the proceeds from Penguin’s Waddle sales will be donated to the Aviary. Bottles are $18 and 6 percent ABV. The beverage will make its debut on Friday, July 16 at Threadbare Cider House and the Bottle Shop at Ross Park Mall. Bottles are available for preorder with pickup and shipping options to 40-plus states.

Threadbare is hosting a fundraiser at the Spring Garden site on July 16 to coincide with the release. Attendees 21 and over can pre-purchase tickets to pick up a pizza and a bottle of Penguin’s Waddle for $30, or stay for dinner, where 9.99 % of sales will be donated to the Aviary.

Photo courtesy of Still Mill Distillery.

Stop and sip at Still Mill in Swissvale

Joshua Miller needed a hobby.

He tried his hand at a bunch of different things and soon discovered that he had a knack for making booze … so much so that he turned his newfound skill into a business.

Miller, a programmer by trade, and his wife Kathy Miller, a lawyer, just debuted Still Mill Distillery in Swissvale. Located at 2033 Noble St. (a few blocks from HLane Dry Goods & Coffee), the tasting room, is open from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Photo courtesy of Still Mill Distillery.

Customers can sample gin, vodka and moonshine or order a specialty cocktail that reflects the steel mill theme. The Third Shift cocktail combines coffee-flavored simple syrup, non-dairy creamer and vodka (like a White Russian for yinzers!).

Eventually, Still Mill will offer small, pre-packaged bites with some vegan options. The Millers are excited just to get the doors open on this painstaking enterprise. Between the pandemic and a complete building renovation, it’s been a long haul.

The Millers purchased the old structure from a sheriff’s sale, not knowing what kind of condition it was in. Turns out it was really bad. The Regent Square couple gutted the former bar down to the bare bricks and created a cozy (and boozy) oasis featuring a rough-cut wooden interior and two 30-gallon stills.

Joshua Miller says it’s a small operation, but a big step up from the 2-gallon still in his basement.

“Its elegance is in the fact that it’s simple and unassuming,” he says.

Photo courtesy of 2 JAS Distilling.

2 JAS Distilling launch party

It’s amazing what 2 jackasses and a still can do.

Longtime friends and self-confessed jackasses Bob Hunt and Rich Couchenour met while working in IT and bonded over their love of fine spirits.

Now they’re making their own rum at a nano-distillery in Emsworth.

On July 19, 2 JAS Distilling will host a launch event from 6 to 8 p.m. at the North Park Old Fire House in Wexford. The guys will serve samples of their Unaged Silver Rum and Spiced Flavored Rum. A mixologist will showcase the spirits in summer cocktails and there also will be hors d’ oeuvres and a DJ.

Couchenour says they may eventually open a tasting room at the Camp Horne Road production facility that houses a pair of stills. Right now, they’re focused on getting their products into local bars and restaurants. Can’t make it to the party? Buy a bottle online.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.